EPs / Singles
As originally conceived by Praveen Sharma (aka Braille and Sepalcure member), Percussion Lab began life as a college radio show before expanding into a kind of all-purpose nucleus for a particular scene and its electronic music musicians. Currently a web portal (PercussionLab.com) and New York-based event series (events have been presented in Williamsburg, Bed Stuy, and on the Lower East Side), the organization now crystallizes its vision in the form of Cambio, a high-quality benefit album featuring fifteen unreleased cuts by Machinedrum, RJ Valeo, Mux Mool, Handshake, and others. Profits from the compilation release will be used to support Percussion Lab's own endeavours (including a planned monthly series of events kicking off in Williamsburg in January) plus a portion will go to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. All of the contributing artists are, of course, Percussion Lab affiliates with strong ties to the organization as performers, organizers, and otherwise.
Ghostly artist Shigeto (Zach Saginaw) starts the collection off promisingly with “Friends and Lovers,” a reflective, late-night electronic moodscape illuminated by neon-lit synths and intricate percussive detailing. Travis Stewart has been a bit of a roll lately, what with the high level of the material he's issued as Machinedrum and in partnership with Sharma in Sepalcure. In its wedding of unusual sound design (vibes, of course, but also vocals and typewriter clacks) and funky deep house rhythms, “Demvibez” demonstrates Stewart's customary imagination. Daedelus (Alfred Darlington) is his usual idiosyncratic self for “RandD,” a roller-coaster ride of organ mayhem, vocal effects, and frenetic beats. Rambunctious, too, is RJ Valeo's “You're the One,” which boogies as feverishly though in a slightly less frazzled manner than Daedelus's outing.
The collection's strongest cuts come from XI (Christian Andersen), whose slinky, bass-driven “Villain” oozes controlled dubstep fever while also qualifying as an excellent example of luscious ambient scene-painting, and Lansing, Michigan-based Contakt, whose bass-heavy space-transmission “Drift” stokes a syncopated, synth-driven swing to memorable effect. Smothered in crackle, Enoe's “The Craze” similarly catches one's attention with its grooving marriage of loping bass funk, swinging hi-hats, and silken atmospheres, while mention should be made of Lando Kal (Antaeus Roy), whose “Cube” is certainly one of the set's most hardest-grooving cuts. “Brewer's Reflection” by Archie Pelago, a Brooklyn-based trio consisting of Hirshi (trumpet, DJ), Cosmo D (cello, Ableton), and Kroba (sax, Ableton), brings a jazzier vibe to the recording in an appealing fusion of sax and trumpet ruminations with electronic beats. Also strong are Sepalcure, whose “All You've Got to Lose” offers a prototypically bold and experimental riff on deep house, and Sharma's own Braille track “Rise,” whose soulful house attack brings the compilation to a feverish close. Hopefully listeners (consumers, that is) will get behind Cambio, not only because of the high quality of the productions on offer, but to support an organization that has been and continues to be such a great support for the electronic music community, artists and listeners alike.